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PNC Bank Customers Close Accounts to Protest Funding of Mountaintop Removal Mining

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PNC Bank Customers Close Accounts to Protest Funding of Mountaintop Removal Mining

Earth Quaker Action Team

EQAT member Carolyn McCoy shares information about the effects of mountaintop removal with PNC Customers. Photo by EQUAT.

Eight prominent Quakers closed their personal PNC bank accounts, or announced their intention to withdraw, in protest of PNC’s continued financial support for coal companies that practice the devastating surface mining technique called mountaintop removal. Each of them were long-time depositors, representing more than 150 years as PNC customers.

“I have been deeply disappointed by PNC's refusal to stop financing mountaintop removal mining, despite its claims to be a ‘green bank.’ Actions speak louder than words,” said Bruce Birchard, recently retired general secretary of Friends General Conference. A PNC customer since 1974, Birchard added, “If PNC pulls its investments out of these companies that so devastate our earth, it would be recognized as a leader among banks in the movement for corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship. I would then re-open my account.”

"Friends Schools teach young people about proper care for the earth and its resources, making communities safe and supporting sustainable living for families. Mountaintop mining certainly flies in the face of each of these. For this reason, I will be closing an account at PNC bank which I have had for over 30 years," said Lynn Oberfield, former head of school at Media-Providence Friends School and the current clerk (chair) of Providence Friends Meeting in Media, Pa.

Allen Bacon, co-founder of efforts to restore Historic Fair Hill Burial Ground, said, “It is with genuine sorrow that I am closing my account with PNC after sixty- two years. The service has always been good, accurate and friendly. But mountaintop removal is threatening our future and that of our descendants.”

Quaker Elder Bruce Birchard and friend close their accounts. Photo by EQAT.

Parker Snowe, former clerk of Providence Friends Meeting, joined his colleagues in closing his PNC account of 20 years. “It’s a moral imperative that we not allow our financial resources to be used in violation of our moral principles. For me, this is something I felt called to do to live my life with integrity,” said Snowe.

The account closings were part of Green Your Money, a project of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), a faith-based environmental group. Those closing their accounts were joined by 20 supporters who spoke with customers and passersby about the issue.

“This action ends just the first month of an ongoing initiative, part of our campaign to get PNC out of the business of financing climate change,” said Amy Ward Brimmer, EQAT executive director. “So far more than $2 million has been withdrawn from various PNC branches,” said Brimmer. “More people stand ready to go, and EQAT will continue recruiting both individuals and organizations to this cause until PNC establishes a meaningful policy against all mountaintop removal investments.”

Earth Quaker Action Team announced this initiative at a press conference on Feb. 29, giving PNC Bank 90 days to announce a change. EQAT completed a 17-day, 200-mile walk to PNC national headquarters in Pittsburgh to publicize the campaign and then started closing accounts with multiple actions across the region on June 1. In spite of several attempts to speak with PNC officials, the bank’s continued response is, “No comment.”

Visit EcoWatch's MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL page for more related news on this topic.

 

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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